By Kat Dalton
The chill of the winter air felt painful against the man's cheeks, and yet each gust was welcomed with a jolly laugh. It was absolutely frigid at that time of year, and yet, the man refused to wear more than his usual clothes. As the wind whipped over him, the man's skin became redder and redder, in a constant battle of color with his red clothing.
The man stumbled inside to his home, taking in one last sight of the winter blizzard before him. He stretched awkwardly in the doorway, fixing his clothing, before he shut the door and made his way inward, to his kitchen.
"What a beautiful night, isn't it? MRS. CLAUS! HONEY!"
His arms stretched out as he called for his wife, as he fell backward against the wall and slid to the ground.
"Jeez, Magus has been getting a tad too much into that eggnog…" Lucca said, as she watched the man fumble over himself.
"He thinks he's Santa Claus. Yo Magus, you think I could raid your private porn collection?" Glenn asked, giggling.
"SURE! MY PRIVATE PORN COLLECTION IS JUST FOR YOU! But ya gotta come closer, see, 'cause I can't let anyone else know where it is, you know?"
"I didn't know Magus had a private porn collection… I was just joking." Glenn whispered to Lucca.
"See, the "man's" gonna come and outlaw that shit, ya know? The man doesn't want us to have FUN, see? THE MAN WANTS TO BRING US DOWN!" Magus yelled loudly, his face turning red.
Lucca and Glenn watched as Magus pounded his fists in fury. He sat there, on the floor, drunker than he had ever been in his entire life.
"The man doesn't want us to fulfill our desires. He KNOWS we can't get chicks, and he KNOWS we got needs, but he don't want us to have fun, see? THE MAN KNOWS that if we become RESTLESS, we'll break into a CIVIL WAR, MAN, and then he'll take control, see? He's weakening the brotherhood, MAN!"
"Uhh, yeah, uhh… man…" Lucca said, giggling.
"You see, it, man? We need to fight the power, man! We need drink, and smoke, and drop acid, and, uhh, drink more, man! And we need chicks, man! And we gotta whack it till it hurts, man!"
Glenn took one of Magus's hands as Lucca took the other, trying to lift him off the ground. Magus continued in his drunken fury, yelling his strange thoughts loudly at Glenn and Lucca. By the time he stood on his feet, he was leaning on Glenn's shoulders, reaching the climax on his speech.
"WE GOTTA FIGHT THE POWER, MAN! We must UNITE against the evils of oppression, MAN! Join me, brother, and choke your chicken with me, as all brothers should! It's the brotherhood, MAN! Are you my BROTHER, MAN?"
Magus grabbed Glenn's head in his hands, and planted a sloppy kiss on his forehead.
"MAGUS! OFF! OFF!" Glenn yelled, pushing Magus off him. Magus let go of him, and promptly dropped his pants.
"FREE YOUR MIND, AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW!"
Lucca turned away and blocked her eyesight from Magus's exposure.
"Christ, Magus, I didn't need to know you were Jewish, okay?"
"I'M NOT JEWISH, MAN! I WORSHIP THE GOD OF LEMONADE!!!"
"They do that to all royalty, Lucca." Glenn stated. "They always have."
"That doesn't mean I have to see it."
"JIGGLE YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS, BROTHER!" Magus yelled, wiggling his hips.
"This is obscene. I'm leaving."
Lucca walked out of the room, shaking her head at Magus's drunkenness.
"Come on, Magus. Pull up your pants."
Magus suddenly jumped backward toward the wall, suddenly fearful of Glenn.
"You… you've got THE MAN'S disease! You're part of it now! ALL OF YOU! You want to BAN the FREEDOM, MAN! YOU'RE bringing us down from the inside out!"
"On the contrary… I'd rather bring those pants of yours up. Don't start acting gay on me again, okay? The last thing I need is you wearing more white… yeech."
"GET AWAY FROM ME, MAN! Don't INSEMINATE me with your FASCIST DISEASE! I hate hamsters! Gilliam is God!"
Magus jumped out of his pants and boots, and ran out of the castle, stumbling and bouncing against the walls as the alcohol damaged his motor function. He ran outward into the cold, the lower part of his body taking damage as the cold hit him. A sudden urge came over him, as he stumbled over a bush to do his business.
"THE FASCISTS CREATED THE COLD, MAN! THEY WANT TO SHRINK US, MAN! THEY KNOW WE WON'T GET CHICKS IF WE'RE SMALL, MAN! AND THEN COMES THE FALL OF FREEDOM, MAN! WE'RE DOOMED, MAN!"
Magus continued to urinate, writing his name in the snow. As he finished, he reached to pull up his pants, but he realized they were gone.
"THE MAN STOLE MY PANTS! BIG BROTHER'S OUT TO GET ME!"
Magus stumbled out into the field in front of his castle, screaming and yelling at the entities that he claimed were destroying him.
"I AM THE HAPPY NOODLE BOY! ALL SHALL BOW TO MY LOINS!!!"
The white out of the blizzard severely hindered Magus's already blurred vision. He tripped suddenly and fell into something soft, and promptly passed out.
* * *
The colors swirled around him, his eyes unable to focus. He looked around him, as the blurry colors eventually cleared up, and found himself almost naked, inside the Epoch. His head was throbbing, and his ears picked up sound as if he was in a tunnel.
"WHO? WHAT?" A sudden voice yelled. The person who was apparently driving the Epoch turned to look behind him, and saw Magus lying there, squinting as the glare from the windows further bothered his headaches.
"Wha… who the hell are you?" Magus yelled.
"Who the hell do you think I am?" The man yelled.
Magus's eyes focused on the strange man who was driving the Epoch. His clothes were bright red, and his hair and face bright white, as curls fell from his cheeks and chin, from under a red cap on top of his head.
"You better keep your butt back there. I've got work to do."
The man pulled out a small silver bottle from inside his red coat, twisting off the cap and taking a swig. He grimaced as the fluid from the bottle slid down his throat, closed the cap, and put the bottle away.
"What do you mean, work? Who the hell do you think you are?"
"I'm SANTA CLAUS, numb nuts!"
"What kind of idiot do you think I am? Get your hands off of those controls! This is no ordinary machine!"
"That's why I'm borrowing it, stupid! If you think that I'm some sort of sidewalk Santa, oh Mighty Prince of Darkness, you are sorely mistaken. Come to think of it, I owe you a few good lumps of coal! You've been a bad little warlock, haven't you!"
"Don't patronize me! I don't know who the hell you are, but I am telling you to land this machine before you do something you'll regret!"
"Like I said, for the 500th time, I'm Santa Claus! Jolly Old Saint Nick! Kris Kringle!"
"Then where are your reindeer and sled, you insane old bat?"
"The reindeer came down with the ebola virus, thanks to Blitzen's stupid vacation to Africa… Rudolph's trying to heal them all with the radiation from his nose, but they won't be well enough to deliver the presents tonight. So, I'm borrowing your lovely Time Machine to go and deliver them for me."
Magus stared oddly at the man, still trying to nurse his aching hangover while trying to figure out where his pants went.
"If you're really Santa Claus, how come I never got any gifts, eh, old man?"
"You've been a nasty little snot, that's why. Sure, you've done well for your country and your followers, but in your own life, you aren't very sweet. I've only noticed changes in your behavior recently, as you allowed your mortal enemy into your home, as well as a bunch of teenagers you normally would despise. Sadly, it's too little, too late. However, I might just waive that back lot of coal that I owe you if you aid me in my journey. I have a few very deserving homes that I must make it to before my time is up, and I could use a helping hand."
"What am I, your elf?"
"You certainly have the ears for it."
"I have never been so insulted---"
"There's a first time for everything. We're here, at the first house… do you see my bag back there? I threw it in without looking…"
"I AM NOT YOUR SLAVE, OR YOUR ASSISTANT, OR YOUR ELF!"
"Just get me the damned bag, you arrogant little fiend! I may be wearing mittens, but my fists will still damage your pure little face, understood?"
Magus grumbled under his breath, and felt around for the bag. It had been wedged under the front seat somehow, and Magus had to take care in pulling it out. As he looked inside of it, he noticed it was totally empty.
"Some bag you have. There's nothing in it."
"That bag contains the hopes and dreams of every child that was ever born unto this earth. You can't see them."
"And why is that?" Magus asked sarcastically, unbelieving of the man's banter.
"You've lost sight of your own innocence. When you regain the mind of a child, you will then be innocent, and able to see on our level. Who knows… if you can manage to feel the feelings of an innocent one, you might just find your own hope or dream in there."
"I highly doubt you could ever deliver one of my wishes."
"True, you wish for your sister, and I cannot deliver life, for that is the job of one much more important than I… but on the other hand, I might just be able to give you something else… like that one small specialty you wanted when you were fourteen…"
"Don't even mention—"
"Then again, it wouldn't be right of me to deliver such objectionable materials, especially to a child."
"Hormones run rampant at that age, you should understand that---"
"All is done and over with. I'll be right back."
Santa jumped out of the Epoch. Magus sat up and looked around at his surroundings. It was late in the night, and the Epoch was perched upon the roof of a house. Apparently, the time machine had nicked the corner of the chimney. Suddenly, a burst of red exploded from the chimney, and jumped back into the Epoch.
"Those damn chimneys are so tight!"
"Maybe you could use your little "dream bag" to rustle up some Slim Fast!"
"Maybe you should keep it down. Are you… are you not wearing pants?" Santa asked, noticing Magus's nudity for the first time.
"Why don't YOU tell me where my pants went, you big red pervert!"
"Like I would know. Listen, oh humble associate… these next few houses, it'll be up to you to go down those damned chimneys, understood? I can't handle it with my bulk."
"I'm not sliding down some blackened, cancerous, coal tube! Especially naked!"
"You have no choice. Either you slide, or the children of the world are left with broken dreams and hearts."
"Bah friggin' humbug, Claus. Bah friggin' humbug."
"Suit yourself. The next house is about three miles and forty years up the road, so watch out as we jump up to speed…"
The Epoch suddenly engaged, and Magus was thrown backward into his seat.
"We're traveling time?"
"Just for these houses, ones that I've missed before, that are owed certain gifts… some of these particular children have special places in the future of this world, and they will need me to help set them on their way."
"How can you set the Epoch to skip small periods of time? The times are supposed to be set already!"
"I have my ways." Santa replied quietly.
* * *
The Epoch perched upon a small, nearly broken house, with a rotted roof and a broken chimney. The house creaked quietly as the Epoch landed, and Magus shifted his weight inside.
"Where are we?"
"Nowhere in particular… that is, nowhere you'd care about. Come on, get moving…"
"You expect me to do your work for you, old man?"
"Yes, I do!"
"You expect me to climb down this giant tube, and expose myself in front of children?"
"The kids will be asleep, no matter how much noise you make. You could walk down there looking like Barney the Dinosaur, and they won't respond. Get out of the machine, and wait for me to give you the delivery."
"If I could only use my magic, I'd have a good mind to send you into another dimension!"
"Too bad all that alcohol severely impaired your magical ability, or you might just make yourself a new pair of pants."
Magus growled under his breath as he carefully jumped out of the machine, trying to hide himself with his hands.
"Here, take this box, and leave it where the child left the note. And don't forget to take any treats that were left out, understood?"
"Yeah, yeah yeah…." Magus grumbled.
"Oh, and Magus…"
"What is it, you pompous old bat?"
"Don't let the hairline get to you. Don't even think about "sending me into another dimension" because I can't die."
"Whatever… just give me the damned box…"
Magus grabbed the lavishly wrapped gift that Santa had magically taken from his bag, and walked over to the broken chimney. He felt it for sturdiness, and watched as one of the bricks fell inward and tumbled town.
"Revolting!" Magus declared, as he stepped inside, grasping for anything that would hold him.
Suddenly, Magus felt the lower half of his body twist and turn pulling him downward. He no longer had any power in him, as the force pulled him downward without remorse. Within a second, he landed inside a fireplace, his rear covered in black soot.
"FILTH! NOTHING MORE THAN FILTH!" Magus exclaimed, pulling himself from the chimney. He grabbed the small, decorated box and walked over to the small tree that stood in the corner of the room.
The room itself was in shambles. The walls were cracked, with bricks showing through in various worn spots. There was little furniture in the room, the only piece of interest being a small loveseat in the middle of the room, made to face a broken television set. Sleeping quietly on the couch was a small boy, wrapped in a blanket full of holes. Next to a couch was a table, with a small plate of cookies and a note. Magus took the note, and read it.
I know that you are really busy tonight, with all of those other kids, but I was really hoping that you could do me a small favor. I really like to read alot, but I've had the same books ever since I was little, and I have almost memorizized all of them. It would be really nice if I got a new book to read. Thank you.
"So the kid wanted a book. Why not ask for a car or something useful? What an ignorant little twit…"
Magus dropped the package next to the boy's hand, which drooped off the side of the couch. He promptly shuffled over to the chimney, starting to climb up it, until he was pulled upward, his body twisting strangely, until it spat out the top of the chimney, landing on the roof.
Magus groaned as he pushed himself up on his feet, his body aching from the trip. As he looked inside the Epoch, he saw Santa glaring at him.
"You took way too long in there, Hurry up, we'll have to make up the difference somehow…"
Magus groaned as he slid inside the Epoch, his head aching from both the trip in the chimney and the headache that he still had from his hangover.
"You took six seconds, Magus, six! That's terrible!"
"Shut up, alright? What was up with that kid, anyway? Where were his parents?"
"He had none."
"Face it, Magus. Some people aren't as well off as you are."
"All he wanted was a book?"
"Some children aren't greedy little rats. This particular one is special, asking only for mind fodder, and not something tacky. You can just tell that his future is set, as a writer."
"How should you know?"
"I saw the note he put out. Someone his age isn't likely to spell so many words correctly, and to use such proper grammar, especially when he hasn't gone to school at all."
Magus sat silently, as he wondered about the child, who seemed so strangely content, even with little to live with.
"Indeed, a pint sized twit."
* * *
Three miles and forty-seven years later, Santa stopped the Epoch on yet another roof. This one seemed much sturdier, with very few cracks or inconsistencies in the roof pattern. The house seemed to be white, glowing eerily in the dark like only a white house would.
"This one... Ahh, yes, lovely young child in there. Perhaps a mate for you in the future, O evil one?"
"Piss off, you old geezer. Give me the package... I just need to get home and into a shower..."
Santa gave a jolly laugh as he shoved the parcel into Magus's awaiting fists. The blue haired mage gave a snarl before he climbed onto the sturdy roof, headed towards the chimney.
"Why do I have to do this sloppy work? Why is it my rear end that has to get smeared with ash? Why can't I just drive?"
"Oh, bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch! Get down there already!" Santa yelled, like an old spouse.
Magus gritted his teeth, as he stepped inside the chimney and was sucked under, in an incredibly uncomfortable position. He was spewed outward at a clean white wall, leaving a very visible butt print.
"Oh wonderful! How sweet! When this dingbat wakes up, she gets a fine view of my rump..."
Magus stood and made a useless attempt at wiping the black soot off of his legs and privates, but it failed. He grabbed the small box he had brought with him and took it towards the bed, where his intended child slept. He found a small table with a note on it, and a plate with a piece of carrot cake. He read the note.
I wanna see the world and all the cotinentes and all the citys in the world but mommy says i cant because i'm too little but i wanna see the world when i grow up. mommy says ican only go into the forst wen i got bootes. Can i have bootes?
"I HATE THE WAY CHILDREN SPELL!" Magus cried out, after deciphering the letter one more time. With that, he threw the parcel at the wall and let it drop in a heap at the floor. He tore the sheets off the child that was sleeping there, to find that it was a boy not more than six years old.
He heard a roar of jolly laughter from up above. Santa was listening in, expecting Magus to fly off the handle when he saw the gender of his "future mate."
"Don't think I didn't see you in your gay days, Magus!" Santa cried out, laughing all the while.
"Another one who insists on pairing me with a male... absurd..." Magus whispered.
He stumbled back into the fireplace and was shot up into the sky, landing squarely on his shoulder inside the Epoch He resided behind Santa, who was still howling. His jolly red cheeks became redder as Magus made angry comments toward him, and he continued to laugh. It almost seemed like the old red saint was drunk.
"Next house, old bag."
Magus sat silently and cringed. He still wondered why these young kids only asked for things so small, rather than toys. It almost disgusted him to think about how selfless these children could be. He'd never heard of a child ask for anything less than something impossible.
* * *
The darkness of the tunnel was disturbing as the two flew through it. Magus had never seen a time tunnel like this before. He blamed the strange sights on the fact that they weren't traveling to a set period in time. Santa was controlling the destinations now, and it was his odd magic that changed it all. Magus settled down in his seat and pulled his knees up to his chest. It was going to be a long night.
"Relaxing, old boy?"
"I'm not old."
"You're mentality is that of one who is very elderly. Not just any old man either.. a sour, lonely, selfish old man. We need to work on that."
"And what? Perhaps I simply choose to be what I am. Perhaps I like being sour!"
"Nobody likes being sour."
Magus flared his nostrils and sunk even lower into his seat.
"Why are these kids so stupid? Why do they choose such insignificant presents like boots and books? Why not gifts like toys?"
"These children aren't selfish. In a sense, they are the essence of innocence in a living form. They give themselves up for others, and choose to do no wrong. They were instilled with morality and the courage to uphold it. And, when it comes time that they do get something in return, they ask for little. They are as selfless as one can be."
"So they're dreadfully dumb."
"Those dreadfully dumb children happen to be the cornerstones of your own future. Trust me. Because of their actions, their futures will be happy and successful. They will be repaid for their positive efforts in their lives. And due to their devotion to others, chances are that they will, or have already, helped you."
"Isn't it." Santa started laughing again, his cheeks and belly bouncing endlessly against the steering wheel.
"Would you stop jiggling?" Magus complained. Santa continued to laugh, and Magus closed his eyes.
* * *
"We're here, old boy. Next house."
Magus grumbled silently and grabbed Santa's bag. He slid out of the Epoch, leaving a black trail of soot where his rear end was bare. As Magus stood on the roof, he noticed it was cold and damp, and felt like grass beneath his feet. He realized it wasn't a roof at all, but a bare plain, with small patches of grass scattered around. It had a small wooden cabin within a few yards.
"If I landed on the cabin, it would collapse. Go on now, shoo!" Santa said, laughing again. Magus could almost hear the rolls on his side slap together.
Silently, he walked through the door of the house, to see a large woman and a small child sharing a queen size bed.
"Mrs. Claus! How pleasant of you to crush the brat next to you."
There was a bare tree in the corner of the house, with barely a few leaves and decorative items on it. On the floor were a few colored flowers, and a slip of paper. The white sheet had only a happy face and a drawing of a flower on it.
"What does this mean, old coot?" Magus asked the air. He expected Santa to answer, but he received none. Santa couldn't hear him.
"Whatever." he uttered, as he pulled a parcel from the bag and dropped it on the floor. It released a spray of small hard balls that clattered against the floor.
"Seeds?" Magus asked. He sighed and turned away, to leave the house.
"I guess I'll never understand kids. Good thing I probably won't be having any of my own."
As he trudged back towards the Epoch, he noticed that Santa was gone. The Epoch lay silent, not even turned on. Magus's eyes widened, as he ran towards the machine to make his way home. He could finally clean himself of ash and put on a new pair of pants.
As he sat in the front seat, he switched the proper mechanisms that would make the Epoch work. It hovered quietly above the ground, and Magus could almost taste the aspirin and cold water from home. And then, he saw the large, rotund Saint Nicholas knock at the canopy. His face wasn't jolly, and he almost seemed to have a frown.
"What?" Magus asked innocently in the awkwardly silent moment.
"I had to go in and clean up your mess. You dropped the girl's seeds on the floor. I had to pick them up."
Santa looked onward with stern, unforgiving eyes. It was a look that probably had never been given before. Magus didn't notice that he was actually shaking in fear. Slowly and strongly, Santa spoke.
"You will be accompanying me on one more mission. If you fail to be proper with this one child, then you will be severely punished... not by me, but by your own wretched soul!"
Magus moved ever so carefully into the back seat as Santa took off to the next house.
* * *
Santa lowered the Epoch onto the roof of a large wooden house, perched on an island. He snorted some as he raised the canopy, and Magus stepped out rather timidly, at least for his style. Santa threw him the bag and lowered the canopy without a word. Magus felt strangely unsettled that he turned such a jolly person against him. However, he was used to people being against him, so it didn't phase him that much.
He still felt funny about all the kids, however. Something about the idea of not being selfish was very foreign to him. He pushed the thought from his mind and looked once again, ad the scenery around him. It was familiar, strangely familiar, and he didn't know why. Once again, he put his focus on his intended job, and scurried into the house through a window.
As he stepped into the small bedroom, he noticed that there was no tree. There was a small plant on a dresser, but aside from that, there was nothing out of the ordinary. There were a few scattered papers on the floor, which seemed normal for a child's room. He glanced over to the bed, to see his happy sleeping customer, but he noticed that the bed was empty.
"Who? What kind of joke is this?"
He walked around the room quietly, confused as to what to do, until his bare feet passed over a shy slip of paper hidden away in a corner.
Dad promised to go hiking with me but due to his work he blew me off again! I hate science! I loathe it!
Magus stood in wonder of what he was reading.
"Why does this place seem so familiar? Have I been here before?"
Magus plopped down on the clean white bed, unaware of the large black butt-print he was placing there. With a sigh, he started thinking about the residents of his household. Were Crono and Marle taking advantage of his lack of supervision to have their own private orgy? Was Lucca turning his kitchen into a techie paradise? What would Glenn be doing now, all alone, with the Media Crystal? Many, many questionable ideas passed through his head, before he realized he was still sitting in the strange room, doing nothing.
"Santa, what is the meaning of this?" He called angrily, but with enough care not to make the old man angrier.
"I shall say nothing. You do this one on your own." Santa called back.
Magus sighed, and swished around the large red bag. By now, since he was at his destination, Santa's magic bag should have some gift materialized in there for its intended. The bag still felt like it was empty.
"What is the meaning of this? Does this child get nothing but air?"
With that, he opened the bag, only to be greeted by an explosion of red light. The bag did contain something, something that seemed to have no weight to it at all. It was a beacon of pure energy, and a passageway that Magus actually held in his hand.
The oddly red gate flopped around in his hand like a piece of paper. He felt bold and strong, able to hold this odd passageway between his fingertips. It felt more powerful than any spell he had managed to cast in his entire life.
He played around with it softly, throwing it around like a ball, only he was throwing and catching nothing at all. He was never a professional ball player, however, so when he lost control and the gate flew toward the window, he was shocked. He was even more shocked when it hung in midair and refused to move.
And then, the gate opened, revealing an equally reddened passageway that Magus had never been through. With caution, he stepped inside.
* * *
He fell lopsided onto grass and soft soil, his shoulder being the sole breaker of his fall. He groaned as he kneeled upright, and stumbled to his feet.
"Hangover... still not gone..."
He then noticed he was in a forest clearing, with a small path before him. He could faintly hear the crackle of a large fire around his corner. He approached slowly, his vision blurry, until he came upon a big purple blob. He squinted some, and noticed that the blob had a white orb at the top. He stood back, allowing his vision to clear, before he looked again.
His eyes revealed the odd figure to be none other than himself, wrapped in his purple cape, with a long nose and a sneer as he slept against a tree. Magus was almost shocked at his own frightful appearance. Seeing yourself in the flesh is much different than looking in a mirror, as you tend to notice more than just your looks, but your entire state of being, which for Magus, wasn't very pleasant.
Magus heard a grumble and a moan from within the center of the clearing. He saw all of his allies lay there, sound asleep, save the single conscious soul that stood in the center. It was Lucca.
"Lucca? What is this? Why are we back here?"
He forgot that Lucca couldn't hear him. He wasn't visible to anyone other than Santa and himself. He then realized that it saved him the embarrassment of being pantsless in front of her.
The gate began to emit a strange low sound that passed lightly through the clearing, drawing Lucca's attention. It gave the air a feeling of discomfort, and the sound drew Lucca to it. Magus watched as she passed by him, turning the corner towards the red gate.
Without any hesitation, she entered it. The small red gate expanded into a huge ball of light, which Lucca then stepped into. Magus snuck inside as well, curious to see what the point of the gate was.
It was then that Magus realized the room he came from was Lucca's room, just very clean, neat, and not filled with insane creations and productions of any sort. It was like a little girl's room.
"Did I return back...to that moment?" Lucca said to herself, as she looked around the room.
"What moment?" Magus asked, with no reply.
She walked solemnly around the room, noticing an old diary entry thrown onto the floor. It was the one Magus had seen earlier, about her hating science. Her eyes went wide as they scanned over the page. With a swivel of her feet, she turned and walked towards a doorway that revealed the downstairs. Magus followed, watching Lucca carefully to see what was going on.
Magus could hear odd voices downstairs. He listened in carefully.
"Taban says to keep away from this...but it's so dusty I can't..."
And then the whir of a machine started. Lucca jumped with surprise and fear, watching horrified eyes as her mother lost control of the odd machine.
"Oh dear me! I'm stuck! Lucca! Lucca! Help!"
"I can't pull it out, mommie!"
And then Lucca bolted back into the room and out the door, racing down nearby steps past Magus's point of vision. He tried to run down after her, but stumbled on the steps, rolling uncontrollably wherever his body took him. He lost control of Santa's bag, as it flew into the kitchen and landed near a refrigerator.
He sat up, dazed and in pain, his soot-covered buttocks making yet another print on another light colored surface. As his vision cleared, and he looked around, he noticed a white pad peeking out of the bag. Looked at it, turned the pages, found nothing interesting, and threw the book on the kitchen table.
"Now that smarts…" he said, feeling a bump on the back of his head. He had almost forgotten about Lucca, until she came racing into the kitchen. She took one look at the notepad on the table, turned, and ran out. Magus, curious, stumbled to his feet, and followed her into the front room.
There, he watched her punch in keys on a glimmering keyboard, as a young woman and a small child bumbled around with a large, dangerous looking machine. As she finished punching keys, the machine stopped, and Lucca breathed a sigh of relief.
Magus could see why Lucca was in such shock. It was obvious that the young girl was her, judging by the purple hair and the small set of glasses. The mother gripped her child tightly as she cried, whispering "Oh Lucca...Lucca…" into her ears to soothe her.
"The innocence of a small child scarred for life… she cares so much for her mother that she is granted a chance to go back in time to save her… imagine the shock of being able to change the past…"
Magus did not have to imagine after that, because Lucca collapsed. He almost seemed to smile as he picked up her unconscious body and brought her to her room, laying her down on the floor, because the bed was still dirty from his sooty bottom. To his surprise, he found another diary message on the floor, near to where the first one was.
I feel like I've learned something! I'll study machines now...there'll be no more accidents around here.
"Heh… the young scientist in action., no doubt."
Lucca opened her eyes rather suddenly and stood, looking as well at the message after Magus dropped it on the floor. She sighed, smiled, and walked back into the gate, Magus following behind.
As they fell to the grassy floor, back in the clearing in the forest, Magus noticed Robo standing idly by the side, somehow expecting her return.
"Lucca...you've got a kind heart...you are always thinking of others…" he said, as he opened a small door in the center of his chest. "I made this for you...it's a special sap created from a tree in my forest...it took four hundred years and a lot of pressure to make… I hope you'll find it useful."
"You're so sweet, Robo." Lucca replied softly, as she took the small green orb into her hands.
"Hmm…" Magus said to himself. "So that's where the Green Dream came from… we never did use that little green orb…"
"So that's what this is all about, eh, Santa? Giving from the heart… trying to teach me a lesson… even a teenager… even a robot can give from the heart, but I can't…"
Magus turned around, only to see the rooftop of Lucca's house, and the Epoch below. The sudden change of scenery was almost too much for Magus to handle, as he stumbled carelessly on the sloped roof.
"Ha ha…" he said, almost enjoying the fact that he might fall at any second. "Some children are beautiful creatures, aren't they… giving from their own hearts… I knew it, Santa, I knew who you had me deliver to…"
"Go ahead then, Magus, do tell." Santa's voice said.
"Belthasar… the writer… cleverly naming him Matt so I couldn't tell the difference."
"I gave him a book, so that he could learn to read and write better. With that, not only did he become a nobleman of your time, he became a philosopher, writing books and books about Nu…"
"And then Toma, the boots…"
"So he could travel. He got you the Giant's Claw, no?"
"So she could create the very forest you just stood in."
"And then Lucca's chance to relieve herself from the one true horror of her childhood."
"Gave her hope. She needed to see her mother well again."
Magus almost seemed to giggle.
"So THIS is what I missed in my childhood, eh, Santa?"
"Indeed. You never learned that the beauty of a gift is in giving it, not in receiving it."
Magus almost seemed to giggle as he climbed down the side of the house, being careful not to harm his naked, sooty skin. He carried the bag loosely in his fingertips, as he stumbled toward the Epoch, sighing at the night sky.
"You know, Santa, it might be nice to do this more often."
"Well, you can, if you like. It's all up to you."
"Who can I give to though?"
"Think about it, smarty pants! You've got people residing in your home, do you not? Or does the lovely young girl you just delivered to still spend her nights at home?"
"They'll get an awful shock."
"So will you. Look in the bag."
Magus opened Santa's bag, which was still light enough to be completely empty. However, when he opened it, his eyes took in such a sight, one that he'd never even be able to imagine if he tried as hard as he could. Millions, billions, even trillions of presents lie in the bag, as if it were an endless world of toys inside the not-incredibly-large bag. It was not just a work of magic, but a work of magic beyond anything Magus could ever even think about creating.
"Innocence found, eh, Magus?"
"I guess so."
"Well now I can't give you the world, you know… its too late for you to have a chance like Lucca had, to set thing straight with your past… but I can, on the other hand, stop by to make a few deliveries, to repay you for your help."
"If you need to, old man, if you feel like it."
He laughed as he jumped into the back seats of the Epoch, leaving the bag with Santa.
"Take me home, fat jolly man, I need some rest. I have some shopping to do tomorrow!"
Santa giggled, as he engaged the Epoch. In an instant, Magus fell asleep.
* * *
"Magus… wake up…"
"Hey! Come on!"
Magus turned upward in his bed, looking at the blurry faces around him. The light from the windows shined brightly into his eyes, stinging them to the point where squinting wasn't enough to block it. He could almost see several different colored tufts of hair around him.
"Good morning, you old fruit." Glenn said angrily. "Thank you exposing yourself to the world last night by passing out in the snow."
"Oh let the man rest, he's got a hangover like you wouldn't believe. Four cans of eggnog, Magus. You're a sick sick boy." Lucca said, giggling. Magus grinned when he heard her voice.
The four, Lucca, Marle, Crono, and Glenn, all stood back, unaware that Magus even knew whom the fabled "Santa Claus" was.
"Magus, just get your butt up. Its Christmas morning!" Marle complained in her annoying voice.
"Mmm… gimme few… minutes…"
Crono sighed. Lucca uttered something under her breath, and walked out, as the rest followed.
Was it real? Magus asked himself. Was it all a dream?
It was then that Magus felt something odd under his covers. Something was swiping itself against his naked legs. He squinted as he looked under them, searching to find what might be hindering his fall back into sleep. As he pulled out the unnecessary items, a smile formed on his face.
He lifted up a pair of black glimmering leather pants in his perfect size, and a mint edition double-size copy of Mystic Nude Monthly, a magazine he had always wanted to read as a teen when in puberty. A bright smile formed on his face, as a voice called out to him.
"I can't give you the world, mage, but I can drop in for little things!"
Magus laughed as he rolled over, placing the items on the ground.
"Perhaps Glenn could borrow them." He said to himself, as he nestled under the covers to revel in the new joy he'd found, all thanks to a childhood hero that he never even had.
And thus, it was truly a memorable, wonderful Christmas.
* * * * * *
Am I not right? The true joy of a real Christmas, or any event, is in the giving of well wishes, not in the receiving. The next time you give a gift, look at the smile on the face of the recipient. Is it not a pretty thing? Children, especially, no matter whom, always have the brightest, most beautiful smiles that one could ever see, not because of the gift you gave, but the heart you gave it with. And that's what counts in the end.
We could all learn a little bit from those "little brats," no?